First Clinical Nurse Specialist appointed for asbestos-related cancer patients in West Midlands

Sophie Philips has been appointed as the West Midlands’ first dedicated Mesothelioma Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS), based at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

Sophie will join Mesothelioma UK’s network of 26 dedicated Clinical Nurse Specialists across the UK. Each of the Mesothelioma UK nurses are based within an NHS hospital and dedicated to providing expert, specialist mesothelioma support, information, treatment and care across the region in which they are based.

Mesothelioma is a cancer related to exposure to asbestos and predominantly affects the lining of the lungs. The UK has the highest incidence of the disease in the world with around 2,700 people diagnosed each year.

Sophie has 15 years’ experience working with cancer patients in pre-diagnosis, treatment and palliative care at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham. During this time, Sophie began attending mesothelioma multi-disciplinary meetings and support groups which increased her interest in helping mesothelioma patients and their families. She will combine her new role as a Mesothelioma Clinical Nurse Specialist with her existing part-time position as a Macmillan Lung Cancer Nurse Specialist.

This new post has been made possible by a private donation, made by John Blunt from Solihull who lost his wife, Janet, to mesothelioma in 2014. Janet was a GP and after her diagnosis in November 2013, Janet and John approached Irwin Mitchell solicitors to investigate the circumstances of Janet’s exposure to asbestos. The generous private donation to Mesothelioma UK is based on the settlement of this case and will fund Sophie’s role for two full years, split over the first three years of the position.

John Blunt said: “I’m so pleased that other families affected by asbestos-related illnesses can now be offered specialist nursing help within the West Midlands, reducing the need for extensive travel.”

MAPS Medical Reporting is a leading provider of high-quality medico-legal expert witness evidence in support of legal claims for injury and disease. The company is also supporting Sophie’s new post with a grant to Mesothelioma UK which will part-fund her first year.

David Stothard, Managing Director of MAPS Medical Reporting commented: “As former solicitors from the national trade union law firm, Thompsons, the directors and owners of MAPS Medical Reporting all fought claims on behalf of the victims of asbestos disease. We saw first-hand the terrible effects of mesothelioma and the tremendous work done by the specialist nurses provided by Mesothelioma UK. We are delighted to be able to directly support Sophie’s role which we know will be an enormous assistance to those affected by mesothelioma in the West Midlands.”

Commenting on her new role, Sophie added: “I feel that mesothelioma patients often have quite unique questions and need a bit of specialist support and I’m looking forward to providing this in my new role to people in the West Midlands. There are around 60-80 people diagnosed with mesothelioma patients in the region each year and I’ll be supporting them with practical help and advice, including informing them about clinical trials for which they may be eligible.”

Head of Services for Mesothelioma UK, Liz Darlison commented: “We are delighted to welcome Sophie to the team, bringing the number of Clinical Nurse Specialists in the Mesothelioma UK network up to 26 in the UK. Her experience and passion for helping those with mesothelioma will be a fantastic support to patients and families in the West Midlands.

“Sophie’s post has been made possible through generous donations from the Blunt family and the MAPS Benevolent Trust, and we are so grateful to them. The charity has wanted to strengthen links with the clinical teams working in the area for a long time and Sophie will help us to do this.”

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